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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Columnist: Godsway Obro-Boateng

Dean of students should be blamed for collapsed SRC structures

Panyin a, Otena fie ma nkwadaa we nanka no,y33bu nanka wefo a, oka ho bi. This Akan Proverbs as said by our forefathers literally translates that, An adult who sits at home for kids/children to eat the snake when they are looking for those who eat snakes, he's one.

It is important to note that, what this Proverbs stands to achieve is to advance the course that, an elder cannot look on unconcerned when things are going wrong. But this unfortunately for us is not what we see in our jurisdiction so far as the office of the Dean of Students Affairs and matters of the SRC is concerned.

The African proverb that, "what an elderly see sitting down, a child cannot see standing"* the translation of this proverb is the critical reason why, the University has given powers to the Dean of Students Affairs to act as an elderly figure to exercise an oversight responsibility on the Students Representative Council(SRC), Graduate students Association of Ghana( UG chapter) and other student bodies within the University. But unfortunately as the case is at the University of Ghana, the Dean of Students Affairs has disappointed us and has not lived up to expectations.

The falling and in fact, the collapsed structures of the University of Ghana SRC should be laid at the doorstep of the Dean of Students Affairs and his office. One may ask why this claims, but before I continue, let me walk us through the responsibility of the Dean of Students Affairs of the University of Ghana and why I say he has contributed to the collapsed of the UGSRC structures.

The University of Ghana statutes that established the office of the Dean of Students Affairs under statute 38(2) at page 83 of the statutes state as follows,

The Dean of Student Affairs shall be responsible, under the Pro-Vice-Chancellor(Academic) for;

a) the counselling and placement of students

b) the provision of chaplaincy services through the chaplaincy Board to students and other members of the University

c) the resolution of the conflict between students and halls and hostels of residence as well as a conflict involving students outside of halls and hostels

d) making representation to the University about ways of enhancing the quality of students life

e) ensuring the maintenance of cordial relations among the various student groups and the student body as a whole, to ensure that they obtain maximum benefit from their University experience

f) ensuring the orderly organization of students' activities within the University

g) providing leadership to all bodies and activities that promote the well-being of students of the University including the students' Representative Council(SRC), the legon branch of Graduate students Association of Ghana( GRASAG), and the Guidance and placement centre

h).*overseeing the management of dues and other levies collected by the Students' Representative Council(SRC), and the Legon branch of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana(GRASAG) from students or on behalf of students

i). overseeing the formation of students Associations

j). working with student groups and the sports Directorate in developing extra-curricula programmes and activities of the University

k). co-ordinating with the groups to encourage the participation of students in the activities that promote personal growth and development of students

l). encouraging the development of student culture that encourages the exercise of leadership, respect for diversity and the traditions of the University, and responsibility for personal actions

m). ensuring that any disciplinary actions imposed on any student(s) by the recognized authority of the University are complied with; and

n). giving permission to students to go on protest marches and demonstrations whether within or outside the University.

These clearly are the responsibility of the Dean of Students Affairs, but one will agree with me that, when it comes to provisions C, G, and H, the Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Godfred Alufa Bokpin has disappointed the SRC which has resulted in the current state of limbo we find ourselves as an SRC.

In the early days of the last semester of the 2019/2020 academic year, the University of Ghana SRC legislative arm( the General Assembly) organised it's elections as provided for by the SRC constitution in Article 7, clause(1)(IV). The election saw Mr. Emmanuel Owusu Adjei Ampem and Mr. John Lawerh Puplampu Alfred as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.

However, the legitimacy of the speaker( Mr. Emmanuel Owusu Adjei Ampem) was challenged at the Judicial Board of the SRC, and the court ruled that the election of the speaker was illegitimate because the election was engulfed with so many irregularities. The court ordered that, fresh elections should be organized, in brevity, the SRC President Mr. Isaac Agyemang and the Speaker sort for an injunction from the Dean of Students Affairs to prevent the Electoral Commission from conducting the fresh elections as ordered by the court.

The Dean on top of this granted a stay of execution after the council for the plaintiff tendered in an appeal. But from last semester till this very moment, the appeal's Board which is chaired by the Dean as provided for in Article 48(4) of the SRC constitution has failed to bring finality to this issue. This is clearly a failure in the responsibility of the Dean of Student Affairs as provided for in statute 38(2c) of the University's statutes.

Again, it has become the penchant of SRC executives to spend money anyhow because over the years, there have not been any proper checks from the office of Dean and some punitive actions taken against persons found culpable of misapplying the students' funds.

Among the responsibilities of the Dean of Students Affairs as provided for in statute 38(2h) states that; the Dean shall oversee the management of dues and other levies collected by the Students' Representative Council(SRC) and the Legon branch of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana(GRASAG) from students or on behalf of students. But unfortunately, the Dean has disappointed us so far as this responsibility is concerned.

During this semester, at the continuation of the last semester's General Assembly(GA) sitting that was on recess, the house detected that the SRC Treasurer and President had withdrawn from the students' dues account a whopping amount of Gh¢ 66,000 in excess of what the General Assembly had approved. The house demanded that the outstanding monies from what the GA approved should be refunded back into the coffers of the SRC. This directive from the house has not been complied with simply because, the Dean on 19th February 2020 wrote to the internal audit directorate of the University to audit the first semester's account of the SRC.

But the puzzling question one should be asking is, *how was this withdrawal possible*. Your guess is as good as mine.

It's been almost a month and over since school was closed down due to the novel Covid 19 pandemic. Ordinarily, the SRC should have had its elections and transition power to the next administration, but till now, we've not heard from the SRC on the way forward for our elections.

The Dean of Students Affairs as provided for in statute 38(2g) of the University's statute bears the responsibility to provide leadership to all bodies and activities that promote the well-being of students of the University including the students Representative Council(SRC), the Legon branch of the Graduate Students Association of Ghana(GRASAG), and the Guidance and placement centre. It is expected that, in these extraordinary times, the Dean would provide leadership to ensure we have our SRC elections no matter what. It was revealed on our campus-based station, Radio Univers that, the Dean of Students Affairs had instructed the SRC and other student bodies like the JCRs yet to hold elections, to submit to his office a roadmap on how they intend to transition power; it's been weeks now since this directive was given, the question is, what has become of this directive.

The intervention of the Dean at this time is more required than ever to keep our SRC running, but we are not seeing any of these interventions and for that matter, the leadership he should exhibit. As one of the many students dissatisfied with the perfunctory steps taken by the dean , I call on him to restore the integrity of the office he occupies and bring back the fast vanishing confidence of the entire student populace... Contrary to allegations I would like to allude to that the SRC president and some other student leader's activities do not have the backing of our dean, I cannot even imagine the possibility such...

Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Godfred Alufa Bokpin should not loose sight of the fact that, he has a charge to keep, and this charge is his oversight responsibility on Student Representative Council(SRC) and it's structured.
May God bless our University, and make the SRC great and strong.

Long live UGSRC!

Long live University of Ghana!!

Long live Ghana!!!

Godsway Obro-Boateng

(UGSRC General Assembly Member, Faculty of Arts)

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